Back-up Ready to Replace Marzel at Arab Poll

The Central Election Committee may send an alternate representative to the committee overseeing voting at the polling station in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, in case police do not allow extreme right-wing committee member Baruch Marzel to enter the town on election day. Dozens of residents of Umm al-Fahm and surrounding communities are expected to block the entrances to the city in protest against Marzel's appointment as committee chairman.

Police have told civic leaders over the past two days that they will not be able to prevent Marzel from coming to town. "They can only keep him away once he enters the city itself, if indeed there are disturbances of the peace," city councilman Raja Agbariyeh, who also serves as head of the Sons of the Land movement, told Haaretz yesterday. "Marzel will not enter in here. We welcome any other Jewish person who does not want to expel us," he also said.

Sons of the Village activists are planning to come to Umm al-Fahm from other places to prevent Marzel's entry to town. Haaretz has learned that a group of Arab political activists intend to arrive in town early this morning for that purpose.

On Friday, Central Election Committee chairman Justice Eliezer Rivlin denied Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's request to remove Marzel from the committee due to fears that his presence might spark violence. Sources on the Central Election Committee yesterday said the police and Mazuz had wrongly placed responsibility for public order in Umm al-Fahm at the committee's doorstep.